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Newsmaker: Robert Vadra

Sonia's Achilles heel

Kavita Chowdhury 

is an impetuous man. In February 2005, when his father, the late (whom Vadra had very publicly disowned), destitute and alone, suffered a heart attack in a decrepit ‘barsati’ in south Delhi’s Amar Colony, Vadra let loose his temper at the journalist who attempted to highlight the incident. “What’s your business (in this), stupid," he thundered.

His impetuosity was again on display just the other day, when angry at (IAC) and the Arvind Kejriwals of the world for raking up his business dealings, he posted on Facebook, “Mango in a Banana Republic”. The furore it created forced him to shut down his Facebook account. In sum, Vadra, Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law and Priyanka Gandhi’s husband, clearly has an ability of making headlines for the wrong reasons.

During the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh earlier this year, Vadra, campaigning for the party in the Gandhi bastion of Rae Bareli, suddenly set the cat among the pigeons when he announced his political ambitions sitting astride a motorbike, “If want, I can join politics.” While Congress members cringed, rushed to do damage control, blaming the media for asking wrongly-worded questions and putting it on record that, “He (Vadra) is a successful businessman and has no time for politics.”

Ironically, it is only now that the country has got an insight into his purported success, ever since Kejriwal and IAC questioned his meteoric rise into a real estate baron over a short span of three years. From a networth of only Rs 50 lakh in 2007, the fortunes of his companies have rocketed to a jaw-dropping Rs 300 crore.   

A sports and fitness enthusiast, Vadra has often been clicked in the capital with his six- pack abs, pumping iron at the gym, exercising outdoors or simply cycling. Vadra clearly loves speed and apart from the expensive motorcycles he likes to ride or his appearances at the in Noida, he is also known to be a big buff of soccer and cricket.

As late as 2010, he preferred to be known merely as an “exporter of handicrafts and jewellery”, as he himself told a national daily. However, he had by then been engaging in big business deals with real estate major DLF, whose owner, K P Singh, was a family friend.

Hailing from a business family in Moradabad (their business was in brassware), Vadra started as an entrepreneur dealing in jewellery and fashion accessories through a small firm of his, Artex. A known face on the celebrity circuit and fashion weeks, he is friends with designer Ashish Soni, and both husband and wife (Priyanka) often sport his label.

As a doting father, he has often been seen taking his son along to IPL cricket matches and rooting for Shah Rukh Khan’s Kolkata Knight Riders.

However, he had managed to be low-key through his 14-year marriage with the daughter of the country’s first political dynasty. Accompanying his wife on the campaign trail or his brother-in-law, Rahul Gandhi, to the family boroughs, Vadra has been known only as ka pati (Priyanka Gandhi’s husband). The family and party preferred it that way.

Now, with splashed across the front pages of newspapers, fingers are being pointed at the Congress president’s family, an uncomfortable situation for the party-led United Progressive Alliance coalition, already struggling with the burden of multiple scams.

First Published: Fri, October 12 2012. 00:23 IST